Leading With Courage In The New Year

by Kirsten Meneghello

President-Elect, ICF Oregon

Leading With Courage In The New Year

If you regularly coach leaders, this is a good reminder about how you can support your client leaders to have courageous conversations with their employees. However, you might also think about this topic from the lens of how you as a coach can be courageous in your client conversations.

Many organizations are wondering why their workers are leaving in droves. While some believe mass departures are related to a lack of compensation, requirements about working in the office, or lack of flexibility, one often ignored reason is that coaches don’t have the tools to have courageous conversations and talk about issues that really matter to employees.

The current environment in the workplace requires that coaches be courageous. 

What does this look like? 

  • Having honest, vulnerable conversations around mental health and expressing an interest in what’s really going on in the personal lives of their direct reports 
  • Providing real-time feedback and initiating difficult accountability conversations when needed
  • Raising an issue that may be uncomfortable for some on your team, like discussions around inclusion, equity, and privilege
  • Engaging in productive conflict, challenging others’ ideas, and perhaps questioning the strategic direction of the organization

Bottom Line: If you don’t show up as an authentic and real human being as a coach – and engage in these important conversations that require courage – people will leave your organization in search for leadership who meets their needs.

Earlier this week, I was at a restaurant and overheard a conversation between two friends. One person said they were given the opportunity to transfer to a store closer to their home. However, they said they turned down the offer because their current manager is so understanding and approachable. They said they would prefer to have a longer commute just to have the opportunity to work for a great manager rather than the other manager who had not-so-favorable reviews. Yikes. That’s not the first time I’ve heard something like that. I’d hate to be the less-than-desirable manager in this situation and I don’t want you to be viewed as that person, either.

I’ll leave you with two questions to ponder:

  • What does a courageous conversation look like for you? 
  • How can you improve your ability to engage in courageous conversations?